How To Check Your Breasts
Theres no special way to check your breasts and you do not need any training.
Checking your breasts is as easy as TLC:
- Touch your breasts: can you feel anything new or unusual?
- Look for changes: does anything look different to you?
- Check any new or unusual changes with a GP
Everyone will have their own way of touching and looking for changes.
Get used to checking regularly and be aware of anything thats new or different for you.
Check your whole breast area, including up to your collarbone and armpits.
Testing For Proteins And Genes
The breast cancer cells will be tested for certain proteins called estrogen and progesterone receptors. If the cancer has these proteins, it’s called a hormone receptor positive breast cancer. The cells are also tested to see if the cancer makes too much of the HER2 protein. If it does, it’s called a HER2-positive cancer. These cancers are sometimes easier to treat. If the cancer doesn’t test positive for any of these proteins, it’s called a triple-negative breast cancer.
The cells might also be tested for certain genes, which can help decide if chemo might be helpful and how likely it is that the cancer will come back. Ask your doctor to explain the tests they plan to do, and what the results might mean.
How Much Do Anastrozole And Exemestane Lower The Risk Of Breast Cancer
Studies have shown that both anastrozole and exemestane can lower the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women who are at increased risk of the disease.
In one large study, taking anastrozole for five years lowered the risk of developing estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer by 53 percent. In another study, taking exemestane for three years lowered the risk of developing estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer by 65 percent.
The most common side effects seen with anastrazole and exemestane are joint pains, decreased bone density, and symptoms of menopause .
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/31/2018.
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How To Feel For Changes
Using the following steps, a person can feel for changes such as lumps, thickening, or pain:
Carry out the same routine while lying down, allowing the breast tissue to rest evenly against the chest wall.
Cosmetic Implants And Breast Cancer Survival
The general agreement, based on , is that silicone breast implants do not increase the risk of breast cancer. A 2015 meta-analysis of 17 studies that included participants who had undergone cosmetic breast augmentation discovered no increase in the risk of breast cancer associated with the procedure. In fact, the research showed that the incidence among these participants was lower than expected.
In 2021, another study found that women with cosmetic implants have significantly lower rates of breast cancer than those who do not have them.
Meanwhile, a 2013 meta-analysis found that women who received a diagnosis of breast cancer after getting cosmetic breast implants may have a higher risk of dying from the disease.
However, this research did not factor in other variables that may influence breast cancer mortality, such as body mass index, age at diagnosis, or cancer stage at diagnosis. And at least one of the studies in the analysis looked at overall mortality, instead of breast cancer-specific mortality, thereby potentially skewing the results. As such, a person should consider the finding with caution.
most common type is ductal carcinoma, which begins in a milk duct. Another type is lobular carcinoma, which begins in a lobule, one of the tiny glands that produce milk.
Invasive breast cancer involves cancerous cells spreading to nearby tissue. It is then more likely that the cancer will spread to other parts of the body.
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How To Know If You Have Breast Cancer
This article was medically reviewed by . Dr. Litza is a board certified Family Medicine Physician in Wisconsin. She is a practicing Physician and taught as a Clinical Professor for 13 years, after receiving her MD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health in 1998.There are 24 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 100% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 576,335 times.
Living With Breast Cancer
Being diagnosed with breast cancer can affect daily life in many ways, depending on what stage it’s at and the treatment you will have.
How people cope with the diagnosis and treatment varies from person to person. There are several forms of support available, if you need it.
Forms of support may include:
- family and friends, who can be a powerful support system
- communicating with other people in the same situation
- finding out as much as possible about your condition
- not trying to do too much or overexerting yourself
- making time for yourself
Find out more about living with breast cancer.
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Inflammatory Breast Cancer Symptoms
Unlike other breast cancers, inflammatory breast cancer rarely causes breast lumps and may not appear on a mammogram. Inflammatory breast cancer symptoms include:
- Red, swollen, itchy breast that is tender to the touch
- The surface of the breast may take on a ridged or pitted appearance, similar to an orange peel
- Heaviness, burning, or aching in one breast
- One breast is visibly larger than the other
- Inverted nipple
- No mass is felt with a breast self-exam
- Swollen lymph nodes under the arm and/or above the collarbone
- Symptoms unresolved after a course of antibiotics
Unlike other breast cancers, inflammatory breast cancer usually does not cause a distinct lump in the breast. Therefore, a breast self-exam, clinical breast exam, or even a mammogram may not detect inflammatory breast cancer. Ultrasounds may also miss inflammatory breast cancer. However, the changes to the surface of the breast caused by inflammatory breast cancer can be seen with the naked eye.
Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer can develop rapidly, and the disease can progress quickly. Any sudden changes in the texture or appearance of the breast should be reported to your doctor immediately.
For women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, redness, swelling, itchiness and soreness are often signs of a breast infection such as mastitis, which is treatable with antibiotics. If you are not pregnant or nursing and you develop these symptoms, your doctor should test for inflammatory breast cancer.
Other Causes Of Pain And Tenderness
We often associate pain with something wrong, so when people feel tenderness or pain in their breast, they often think of breast cancer. But breast pain is rarely the first noticeable symptom of breast cancer. Several other factors can cause the pain.
Clinically known as mastalgia, breast pain can also be caused by the following:
- the fluctuation of hormones caused by menstruation
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Breast Lumps Or Lumpiness
Many women find their breasts feel lumpy. Breast tissue naturally has a bumpy texture.
Some women have more lumpiness in their breasts than others. In most cases, this lumpiness is no cause to worry.
If the lumpiness can be felt throughout the breast and feels like your other breast, then its likely normal breast tissue.
Lumps that feel harder or different from the rest of the breast or that feel like a change should be checked. This type of lump may be a sign of breast cancer or a benign breast condition .
See a health care provider if you:
- Find a new lump that feels different from the rest of your breast
- Find a new lump that feels different from your other breast
- Feel something thats different from what you felt before
If youve had a benign lump in the past, dont assume a new lump will also be benign. The new lump may not be breast cancer, but its best to make sure.
Can Blood Work Detect Breast Cancer
Yes. Cancerous tumors produce specific proteins that can be found in blood marker tests. Certain markers, such as CA 15.3, TRU-QUANT, and CA 27.29, typically indicate breast cancer may be present or if there is a cancer recurrence. Other markers, like CEA , can indicate that breast cancer is present and can also determine if it has traveled to other areas of the body. Doctors will often order blood tests before treatment and throughout the process to help diagnose the cancer, as well as to see how the cancer is responding to treatment methods. A blood test is a supplement to other breast cancer detection strategies, but it is not a foolproof method and should not be used in place of other cancer screenings.
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Stage Of Breast Cancer
When your breast cancer is diagnosed, the doctors will give it a stage. The stage describes the size of the cancer and how far it has spread and helps to predict the outlook.
Ductal carcinoma in situ is sometimes described as stage 0. Other stages of breast cancer describe invasive breast cancer:
- stage is â the tumour is “in situ” and there’s no evidence of invasion
- stage 1 â the tumour measures less than 2cm and the lymph nodes in the armpit aren’t affected there are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body
- stage 2 â the tumour measures 2-5cm, the lymph nodes in the armpit are affected, or both there are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body
- stage 3 â the tumour measures 2-5cm and may be attached to structures in the breast, such as skin or surrounding tissues, and the lymph nodes in the armpit are affected there are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body
- stage 4 â the tumour is of any size and the cancer has spread to other parts of the body
Is It A Breast Cancer Lump
Lumps or masses in the breast are common. Thankfully most of them are benignmeaning they are not cancerous. Fluid-filled cysts and noncancerous tumors such as fibroadenomas can often present as a lump, raising concern of cancer. Benign breast conditions, like fibrocystic changes, can cause the breasts to feel lumpy. So how can you tell if a mass is a breast cancer lump and not one of these other conditions?
A breast cancer lump is usually hard with irregular borders and painless. They can occur anywhere in the breast or even the armpit. It can be difficult to tell if a mass is mobile or just moving the tissues around it.
Bottom line? Simply feeling the breast doesnt give you enough information to tell the difference between a cancerous mass and a benign one. The key is to know your breasts, pay attention to any changes and get anything out of the ordinary checked by a medical professional for further work-up.
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Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer With Early Detection And Prevention
When it comes to cancer, early detection is important, but so is reducing your risk. There are several healthy lifestyle choices you can make to reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Stay lean after menopause. Keep a healthy weight and a low amount of body fat. Eating a healthy diet can help.
Get active and sit less. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week. Do strength-training exercises at least two days a week.
Avoid alcohol. If you drink, limit yourself to one drink per day if you are a woman, and two drinks per day if you are a man.
Choose to breastfeed. Try to breastfeed exclusively for six months after giving birth, and continue even when other foods are introduced.
Manage hormones naturally. If you are going through menopause and trying to control the symptoms, try non-hormonal methods before turning to hormone replacement therapy.
In addition to making healthy lifestyle choices, get regular breast cancer screening exams. Screening exams can detect cancer early, when it’s easiest to treat. Women age 25 to 39 should consider a clinical breast exam every one to three years. Women 40 and older should get an annual breast exam and a screening mammogram.
You Have Enlarged Lymph Nodes Around Your Collarbone
Your armpits aren’t the only subtle place you might experience lymph node swelling due to breast cancer. According to the Mayo Clinic, the same issue can also occur above or below your collarbonesa location most people don’t even realize they have a set of lymph nodes in the first place. And for more red flags that aren’t always so obvious, check out 40 Subtle Signs Your Body Is Telling You Something’s Seriously Wrong.
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What Is A Normal Breast
No breast is typical. What is normal for you may not be normal for another woman. Most women say their breasts feel lumpy or uneven. The way your breasts look and feel can be affected by getting your period, having children, losing or gaining weight, and taking certain medications. Breasts also tend to change as you age. For more information, see the National Cancer Institutes Breast Changes and Conditions.external icon
How To Break The News
When and how you tell your loved ones is up to you. Many people choose to tell their partner or spouse first, followed by close family members and friends.
You might start off with, âThis is going to be difficult, but I need to tell you something.â Or, if they know youâve had tests, you could say that your doctor has found out whatâs wrong.
If you donât want to give the news in person, you can tell others over the phone, video chat, email, text, or social media. âThink about what youâre going to say in advance and how youâll respond to the reactions and questions they may have,â Brown says.
Try not to pressure yourself to put on a happy or 100% confident face. Itâs OK to be honest about how you feel.
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Types Of Breast Cancer
There are two categories that reflect the nature of breast cancer:
- Noninvasive cancer is cancer that hasnt spread from the original tissue. This is referred to as stage 0.
- Invasive cancer is cancer thats spread to surrounding tissues. These are categorized as stages 1, 2, 3, or 4.
The tissue affected determines the type of cancer:
- Ductal carcinoma is a cancer that forms in the lining of the milk ducts. This is the most common type of breast cancer.
- Lobular carcinoma is cancer in the lobules of the breast. The lobules are where milk is produced.
- Sarcoma is cancer in the breasts connective tissue. This is a rare type of breast cancer.
When you visit your doctor with concerns about breast pain, tenderness, or a lump, there are common tests they might perform.
‘i Felt Something Like A Hard Round Piece Of Cheese’
After a shower one night, I did a self-breast check. I felt something like a round, hard piece of cheese about the size of a quarter. I had just had a mammogram six months earlier. I felt healthy, biked all the time, and wouldnt have guessed that something wasnt right in my body. But I didnt wait to see what was going on. I went to the doctor immediately and was referred for an ultrasound and needle biopsy. I was diagnosed at age 46 with stage 3 breast cancer, and soon after had a mastectomy. I would never recommend to anyone to ‘wait and see.’ While it was a very scary realization, youre only saving yourself if you take care of it aggressively.
Sandy Hanshaw, founder of Bike for Boobs, San Diego
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Clinical Trials Are A Promising Treatment Option
For people with advanced stages of cancer, clinical trials can be considered the gold standard of treatment. I recommend clinical trials highly, says Rosen. You get access to medication and treatment that you normally wouldnt have.
A clinical trial could even have positive results on your cancer. We are living in an exciting time for cancer treatment, says Kimmick. There are myriad new drugs coming out that will improve the lives of all women with breast cancer, both metastatic and early stage.
However, its important to be realistic about the potential outcome of your trial. Rosen was recently enrolled in a clinical trial in which the medication proved toxic for her. But she has no regrets about participating. It feels like Im helping researchers who are working on cures for cancer, she says. When I had a bad reaction to the drug, they were able to put my side effects in their study. I feel like I did help, and that makes me happy.
People interested in joining a clinical trial for treatment should talk to their doctor about options that might be good for them.
Can I Be Screened For Breast Cancer
BreastScreen Australia offers a free screening program for women at risk of breast cancer:
- If youre aged between 50 and 74 years, youll be invited to access a free mammograms every 2 years. This is because nearly 4 in 5 breast cancers occur in women aged over 50.
- If youre aged between 40 and 49 years or over 75 years, you are also eligible but wont be contacted about it.
- Women under 40 years of age are usually not offered breast screening because the density of their breast tissue makes it harder to detect cancers on mammograms.
Younger women with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, or women with breast cancer diagnosed in the last 5 years may also benefit from breast screening. For more details, call BreastScreen Australia on 13 20 50 or visit their website.
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